Whether you’re involved in the fitness industry as we are, or just follow a few fitness people out of interest, it is difficult to go on social media without noticing the increasing numbers of meal replacements and shakes being pushed and promoted both directly and through so-called ‘fitness experts’. Having recently been approached with an invitation to endorse a popular brand, here’s a few thoughts about why we won’t be getting on board.
As you know, we are advocates of eating healthy and striving for a balanced diet for life. Whilst we understand that fad diets, slimming groups and meal replacement shakes will work on some level, (basically you’re cutting calories in your diet, so you WILL lose body fat); years of PT and nutrition experience has taught us that the results are almost always temporary and none of these plans are sustainable in the long term.
What works far better at keeping body fat off for good is learning how to eat well, how to eat the right amount for your body and lifestyle and how to train in the most effective way for you.
Typically, with a meal replacement shake you’re substituting a nutrient dense food-based meal with a 160 calorie shake. You’re eating less, therefore yes of course you’re going to lose body fat.
But 160 calories of basically Whey Protein does not constitute a nutritious meal in our eyes. The 17g protein in each shake is equivalent to less than 100g chicken or a decent serving of Greek yoghurt, and whilst many of these plans are keen to promote their ‘healthy, plant-based ingredients’ in reality, their content is pretty small and equivalent nutrients could be easily achieved eating a balanced diet with fruit and veg. Its great that some of these branded shakes encourage you to get active with their workout programmes too, but again this just helps their cause – you’ll be putting yourself further into calorie deficit so of course you’re more likely to lose weight!
Then there’s the cost implication: a month of meal replacement shakes will set you back around £130 – that’s the equivalent of a whole weekly shop for a family of four; 25kg of chicken breasts at our local butchers (that’s a lot!!); or 4 sessions with a personal trainer who could teach you about healthy eating for life rather than just drinking a shake for a few months before the boredom and hunger kicks in. That’s a lot of money to be throwing into a glorified protein shake (just to clarify, yes we are in favour of protein shakes when used in the right way – as a supplement to healthy eating and a fast way of getting in extra protein after a workout when necessary, but not as a meal replacement!)
So in conclusion? We think you’d be better off using your money to buy real food; some yummy fruit, veg, nuts, meat, fish; food that will satisfy you as you actually get to chew and enjoy! Get your nutrients the traditional way – from good quality, nutrient dense food – give the shakes a miss. We will be!